About the Colony

The quiet of a newspaper vs. the noise of television

I was down with a bad cold for a few days recently and had the opportunity to pay a little more attention to television than is normal for me. I’ve opined in the past about the sorry state of television, but my dissatisfaction with the medium has reached a new high.

For those of you reading these words right now, stop and hug the newspaper to your bosom. Grip it tightly and tell it never to go away. With the printed media, you read what you want, skip the rest and can even change your mind and go back.

Television is a constant noise. It is repetition of the worst kind, constantly urging us to “ask our doctor if this drug is for us,” and offering a never-ending parade of geeks and bad singers, want-to-be models and lonely bachelors looking only for “true love.”

You get the news once in the daily newspaper, not three times in a row like you get with the electronic media, with the tag line at the end of each 90-second story, “If you want to know more, go to our Web site.” As a newsman, I feel if it is important enough to put on the air, then put the whole story there. Maybe it’s just me, but I have no use for using the computer as a news source.

You can’t fold your computer or TV up and stuff it in your back pocket. You can’t clip out a cartoon or a photo of your children and mail it to the grandparents.

And reality TV is the bane of television. If the former head of the FCC, Newton Minow, thought TV was a “vast wasteland” way back in the late 1950s, he should see it now.

There’s no relaxing with television. It’s always in your face.

And now they begin one program while the credits are rolling for the one you just viewed. I’m sick of seeing graphics take up room on the screen urging me to see what’s coming up next, or next week. There’s just too much assault of my senses. I can’t take it anymore!

Even the home improvement programs are getting bad.

At one time, I could enjoy watching a household project unfold.

Now even that channel attempts to inject artificial “drama” into the program with music and, before each commercial break, an unexpected problem. “Oh no, the windows don’t fit,” or, “They’ve gone over budget.”

The quiet encounter with a newspaper is important, whether it is reading about local or even international news or simply enjoying wise words such as these.

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. His column appears here every week. He can be reached at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.